Like so many workers, Jodie lost her job when the pandemic hit. It was a real blow. She had worked at a day care center for 16 years. She loved reading to the kids and really missed them.

In 2021 when she was ready to get back to work, an Aspire job coach worked with Jodie to find a new job. She landed a position one day a week at a nursing home in Fitchburg. She works in the kitchen and in their food truck, washing dishes and preparing snacks for the residents. At first, the job coach helped her get settled in and learn her new tasks. Now Jodie works with just the occasional check-in from her job coach and support from her supervisor at the nursing home.

Being back at work means Jodie has money to spend on things that are important to her, and she’s got plans-- “a new iPhone 14!” Working just one day a week means she still has time for other activities she enjoys, like basketball and long-distance biking in the warmer months.

Working the dishwasher was a new skill for Jodie. She’s good at her work. The supervisor “has nothing but good things to say about Jodie,” reports Lauren, her current job coach. “In fact, they were hoping that she would take on more hours.”

That’s not in the works, though. Jodie has decided that kitchen work is not for her. She’s given it a good try, but she says, “It’s hot in there. It’s hard to stand all day.” She does like her co-workers and eating lunch with them. They’ve talked about looking at other roles at the nursing home, but Jodie has made up her mind. It’s time to move on.

Lauren is helping Jodie refresh her resume and apply elsewhere. Jodie is hoping she might be able to return to the daycare where she used to work. She’s also open to trying something new, like a retail position. She’s put in applications at local stores and reached out to the daycare center.

Finding the right path can be a challenge for anyone. When a person has a disability, others may have an expectation that they won’t take a chance on something new. With Lauren’s support, Jodie is exploring all her options. They are both confident that Jodie will find a role where she can thrive. Lauren notes, “Employment builds a person’s self-confidence—getting paid, managing money, buying your own things. A job makes you feel good about yourself.”

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